World’s best return to Dubai for second Grand Prix of the season

Paralympic stars including local champion Alhammadi to hog limelight in one of the strongest fields; China to return to international meet after two years 24 Feb 2023
UAE's Paralympic star Mohamed Alhammadi will lead the local charge at the second Grand Prix of the season.
UAE's Paralympic star Mohamed Alhammadi will lead the local charge at the second Grand Prix of the season.
ⒸFazza LOC / DCD
By World Para Athletics

Some of the world’s best return to one of the most traditional venues in the Para athletics circuit when the Dubai Club for People of Determination hosts the second Grand Prix of the World Para Athletics 2023 season in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Dubai 2023 GP takes place from 26 February to 1 March (Sunday to Wednesday) with 585 athletes and 42 guides from 60 countries in action.

Also known as the Fazza International Competition, the event has featured in all GP editions since the inaugural season back in 2013.

Here is all you need to know about the Dubai 2023 Grand Prix.

Where is it happening?

The Dubai Club for People of Determination grounds will host the four-day Grand Prix. Located in Al Qusais area of east Dubai, the ground has hosted several international events, including the Para athletics World Championships in 2019 and Para archery World Championships last February. The Stadium, which was inaugurated in 2016, has a capacity of around 4,500 to 5,000 spectators, with two training grounds around the premises.

Who are the local stars?

The local challenge will be spearheaded by five-time Paralympic medallist Mohamed Alhammadi who will be racing in the men’s 400m and 800m T34 wheelchair races. 

“It’s the start of the year and a Paris 2024 qualification year, so I want to analyse my form, wheelchair and position in this event. This is a big competition and its good for me to test my skills and my wheelchair,” said Alhammadi who is coming from a decent show at the Sharjah International Open Para Athletics meeting.

The 37-year-old UAE star will be joined by Paralympic stars Noura Alketbi (women’s shot put F32) and Sara Aljneibi (women’s javelin, discus throw F33) besides home-grown players like Siham Alrasheedy (women’s discus throw F57) among others in the 55-member home team. 

What about the visitors?

There will be plenty of stars from all over the world competing in Dubai. Both from big delegations such as China and small ones, like Cuba. 

Eight-time Paralympic champion Omara Durand (T12) is the only Cuban athlete set to compete in the Grand Prix. She will run the women’s 200m and 400m in UAE and won both races in that same track at the 2019 World Championships. 

China is travelling with 70 athletes to Dubai and among them will be many Tokyo 2020 gold medallists. Deng Peicheng (100m T36), Di Dongdong (long jump T11), Liu Li (shot put F32) and Zhu Dening (long jump T38) are some of the Chinese Paralympic champions at the GP.

The women’s events will see Xia Zhou (100m and 200m T35), Yiting Shi (100m and 200m T36) and Zhaoqian Zhou (100m and 1500m T54), among others.

“It’s been three years since the team last took part in Dubai, and for the last two years they have not participated in any international meet. This is an important event for us as we are aiming to get our young athletes get classified besides giving them exposure. The field is strong, so we are expecting our athletes get a good competition. We have high hopes from the young stars," said China coach Huang Peng. 

Algeria’s Skander Djamil Athmani is the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic champion in the men’s 400m T13 and will be running in that same race in Dubai. The other two Algerian gold medallists from Tokyo 2020, throwers Asmahan Boudjadar and Safia Djelal, will also be aiming for more glory at the GP.

Dubai will also see the best of Britain, including a potential podium sweep in the T34 wheelchair races. Seven-time Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft will face strong competition from compatriots Kare Adenegan and Fabianne Andre.

Owen Miller (men’s 1500m T20) is another British Tokyo 2020 gold medallist travelling to UAE.

Among the fastest men in the Grand Prix will be Greece’s star Athanasios Ghavelas, the Tokyo 2020 champion in the 100m T11.

In the wheelchair races, Thailand is also expected to rule the tracks in some of the events with star wheelchair quarter-milers Athiwat Paeng-Nuea (T54) and Pongsakorn Paeyo (T53) in their ranks.

Where can I follow the Dubai GP?

Complete schedule and results from the Dubai 2023 World Para Athletics Grand Prix will be available here.

The Grand Prix will be streamed live on the Dubai Club for People of Determination YouTube channel.

You can also watch all the Dubai 2023 action on World Para Athletics Facebook page

Did I hear Laureus Awards nominees?

Switzerland will have five athletes competing in Dubai and that includes Catherine Debrunner who has just been nominated to the prestigious Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award.

She set four world records at the Nottwil 2022 World Para Athletics Grand Prix in the women’s 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m T53. She will be racing in three of these events in UAE (100m, 400m and 800m) plus another two (1500m and 5000m).

The Swiss Silver Bullet Marcel Hug has been nominated three times to the Laureus and won the award back in 2018.

“I have been coming to this event for a long time now and this ground is one of my favourites. I hope to do well in all the races, especially the long-distance ones. I would look to improve my timing here, as we have some big events this year including the Paris 2023 World Championships in August,” said Hug, a six-time Paralympic champion who will race the men’s 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m T54 events.

Hug, who has been in Dubai for the past two weeks, is fresh from his record-breaking show at the Sharjah International Open meet and title win at the Dubai Marathon and hopes to repeat the same in “one of the best conditions”. 

Any other information I should know?

The same venue hosted the last edition of the World Para Athletics Championships in November 2019. China topped the medals table (25 golds, 59 podiums) followed by Brazil and United States.

The Dubai 2019 Worlds saw 50 new world records set across nine days of events. A total of 1,359 athletes from 114 delegations took part in the competition.

What is the next stop in the Grand Prix season?

Marrakech, Morocco will host a GP for the second time in history from 9 to 11 March at the Grand Stadium Marrakech.